A Global Data Ecosystem for Agriculture and Food : GODAN discussion paper

In September 2016, GODAN published a position paper 'A Global Data Ecosystem for Agriculture and Food', which explores a daring vision of an effective Global Data Ecosystem for Agriculture and Food that no single entity or network could possibly seek to deliver, but that might guided by principles of an open and adaptive global stakeholder coalition.


“Agriculture would benefit hugely from a common data ecosystem. Produced and used by diverse stakeholders, from smallholders to multinational conglomerates, a shared global data space would help build the infrastructures that will propel the industry forward”, - Executive summary.

The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) report  "A Global Data Ecosystem for Agriculture and Food" was commissioned by SYNGENTA with GODAN’s assistance to catalyze consensus around:

  • What form a global data ecosystem might take;
  • How it could bring value to key players;
  • What cultural changes might be needed to make it a reality;
  • What technology might be needed to build a global data ecosystem for agriculture.

Being richly elaborated by examples (e.g. Open PHACTS project with focus on data linking, data quality, data availability, data sustainability) and selected institutional responses,  the report lays out a roadmap, based – first of all - on foundations of building trust and understanding incentives (both for data providers and consumers) in:

  • Sourcing, including data provenance, finding data, data licensing and security, data size and speed;
  • Sharing, opening, using and maintaining data. 

On this basis, appropriate and sustainable business models for the global agricultural community could be further developed.

As the ultimate impact of the vision, principles, and roadmap sketched in the report are only valuable if they are acted upon, the report also calls for a disciplined and pragmatic path to progress following the principle of “thinking big but starting small”, use cases, and prioritizing action over process.

The report provides information about:

  1. Stakeholder engagement;
  2. Data sourcing and handling: both for the data consumer and data provider;
  3. Sharing and collaborative frameworks;
  4. The Syngenta context;
  5. Recommendations for stakeholders for building an effective  Global Data Infrastructure for Agriculture.

To support the development of this latter, the report invites stakeholders to follow the key global data standards (e.g., ‘Five stars of open data’), use open data certificates, and data publishing principles (e.g., ‘FAIR principles’: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable data)  making it easier to produce, link and share data. 

Moreover, the report outlines the following priorities:

  • Finding business models that provide incentives for various entities to collect/source and share data;
  • Providing open data sources. SYNGENTA has already done this by publishing data about the results of its Good Growth Plan;
  • Automating data collection;
  • Annotating datasets;
  • Using the data in a productive way, i.e. collaborating with data. Stakeholders must encourage a cottage industry of data-backed apps that get the most value from datasets

In response to the report, four key organizations (CGIAR, AGRIMETRICS, Open Data Institute, AGROKNOW) - engaged in developing data infrastructures - provided their feed-back what a common data ecosystem would mean to them. In particular, the Open Data Institute provided a response titled: “Building the data infrastructure for agriculture and nutrition”, while AGROKNOW:  “Can Europe lead a data revolution in agriculture and food?”

GODAN and AGROKNOW have established a Data Ecosystem Working Group to frame better the GODAN discussion and to start to work on a common, shared data ecosystem for food and agriculture.

It is desired and expected that open GODAN discussion will be broad and inclusive  involving all relevant strategic stakeholders and forums globally.

Your comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Contact GODAN 



A Global Data Ecosystem for Agriculture and Food  forums globally. 

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